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February 2009

Field Day is Coming!

Yes, it is only February 2nd but NOW is the time to get moving on inviting VIP’s to your Field Day event. (If their answer is no – see the end of this section.) VIP’s are worth 100 points if they show up at your site!

VIPs and Field Day

VIPs can participate by making contacts during FD using Amateur Radio. (This also gets points for your group.) Here at W1AW, we’ll be watching 7.290 +/- if the propagation permits.

If propagation is poor, you can use a UHF/VHF radio for your VIP. While a long distance contact is best, even a local contact is better than none – they like to talk on the radio. Be sure to have everything set up right. You do not want to be fussing about in front of a VIP. Also, try to have a radio into a digital mode too so that the VIP sees the radio and a computer. In this way, VIPs can both talk and see a new digital mode showing them “it’s not just your Grandfather’s radio anymore.”

Remember that if the VIP is unable to come to a field day site, a ham with little more than an HT can go to the VIP’s location, work it via a repeater with Echolink, and they still can participate in the day. (Either way, you can win)

So, how do you invite them?

Hopefully, you already have a relationship of some form. But if not, here’s a draft letter you can use and make your own:

Put this on your club letterhead if you have some

Your name
Town, State

Title and name
Town State zip

Re: Invitation to meet with us June (date)

Dear title name:

As title of the club I am writing to cordially invite you to meet with the Amateur Radio operators of your community and members of club at location on June date(27 or 28) between time and time.. This is the National Field Day for Amateur Radio people. Throughout the country, ham radio operators will be setting up radio stations in unusual locations and making contact with others as a display of their emergency communications capabilities.

In the past year alone, ham radio’s people have made headlines with their work in the wildfires, floods, storms, tornadoes and other crises. The hams provide emergency communications for many government and civic organizations in disasters. In addition, they provide supplemental communications when normal systems are rendered inoperable or overloaded. Hams have been called (and correctly), “The people behind the curtain that made the heroes look good.”

Like most communities, __(town)___ doesn’t expect a major emergency. But they do happen, and losing communications quickly can turn an emergency into a real disaster.

We will be inviting the press to drop by, and will have brochures, information packets and other materials made available through the ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio, explaining our work.

I hope that this plan meets with your approval and look forward to your visiting this event. It should be fun and is also a validation to the hundreds of Amateur Radio volunteers who have spent thousands of hours providing emergency communications, public service work and other benefits throughout our communities. I will try to call you about it in a few days.


Your name
Club title

ARRL to Unveil PR-101 for PIOs

While there always is a danger in announcing anything before it actually happens, we let this one out because so many PIOs, SMs and others have asked for something like it in the past. The results of the PIO survey taken back in December have been addressed as well as the many helpful comments that you added. There are many people involved in writing new materials as well as editing and updating text from The PIO Handbook (which is still available). Work is progressing on the course and we expect it will be ready to go by mid-May and Dayton.

Here’s the story we released:

With the many weather events and other newsworthy items of note in 2008, ARRL Media and Public Relations Manager Allen Pitts, W1AGP, said that it was evident around the US "that the expertise, motivational level and activities of individual Public Information Officers (PIOs) are highly variable. Some PIOs are excellent. Some retain the PIO title but are inactive, while others are motivated, but apparently not aware of the basic expectations of their role or the skills involved."

Pitts equated the PIO situation to the situation faced that ARES® faced several years ago: "The corrective action for ARES -- that resulted in major success -- began with the design and implementation of the ARRL EmComm Level 1 classes (first tested in Connecticut and then expanded and deployed nationally). They produced significant positive results in the quality, scope and skill of ARES activities."

A similar course, PR-101, is now being developed by the ARRL. "This course is geared toward PIOs and others interested in Public Relations," Pitts said. "While voluntary, the course will be 'strongly encouraged' for all ARRL PIOs and available for others."

Overall goals for the course are:

  • To clarify the role of the PIO in the Field Organization.
  • To establish a base set of expectations (job description) for a PIO to fulfill, and peer pressure to do the job well.
  • To establish, teach and verify that course graduates have the common basic skill set needed to accomplish expectations set forth in the PIO job description.
  • To create a pool of trained PIOs who can be confidently called upon to represent Amateur Radio in their region during breaking news events.
  • To create a spirit of pride in being a trained and active PIO.
  • To increase the productivity of PIOs and resultant positive media coverage.

"There is a critical need to offer public relations training that addresses the 21st century media landscape," said ARRL Public Relations Committee Chairman Bill Morine, N2COP. "Since the last revision of the ARRL PIO Handbook in the mid 1990s, domination of coverage has shifted from newspapers, magazines and broadcast stations to cable, satellite and Internet media outlets. The decentralization of media means there are many more ways and formats from which the public can access information. The PR-101 course will point ARRL PIOs in the direction where they can best take advantage of opportunities in both traditional and emerging media."

Saying that the League is fortunate to have a dedicated corps of more than 450 appointed PIOs in the field, Morine pointed out the results of a survey sent to all PIOs: "The December 2008 survey showed that the majority of PIOs are either self-appointed or were appointed by their local club. This confirms that many PIOs are highly motivated and eagerly want to tell the public about Amateur Radio. At the same time, the survey revealed that most PIOs have little or no formal training or experience in public relations, journalism or the media in general. The overwhelming number of respondents told the survey they would gladly participate in public relations and media training from ARRL."

Morine said he is glad to see that more and more Section Managers are already endorsing PR-101 for their PICs and PIOs. "The goal of the Public Relations Committee is to raise the professionalism of our field PIOs, just as the ARECC courses have elevated the training of ARES operators," he said.

PR-101 is expected to be first shown to the public in May at the ARRL EXPO at the Dayton Hamvention.

The ARRL PR Committee

The national PR Committee for the ARRL consists of volunteers who are appointed for one year terms by the President. It is made up of people who have skills, experience and knowledge in PR, media or some special talent we expect to need in the coming year. The members of the committee also make themselves available to work on national projects and provide good advice and counsel for staff, PICs and PIOs.

Members of the 2009 PRC are:

Bill Morine, N2COP, Chairman
Vice Dir. Mike Raisbeck, K1TWF, Board Liaison
Peter West, VE3HG, RAC Liaison
Walt Palmer, W4ALT
Gary Wilson, K2GW
Don Carlson, KQ6FM
Gordon West, WB6NOA
Kevin O’Dell, N0IRW
Kevin Pauley, KB9WVI

Possible news outlet

The Internet is a wild and wooly place with few rules. While we cannot say that all of the content there is “acceptable” material, CNN has set up a user-generated news site where anyone can post news items. Some make it onto CNN itself.

This is raw, unfiltered information from all over. But if you have a really good story, it is a place to submit it that is seen by many people.

Dennis Dura, K2DCD, writes:
You may already be aware of this offering…if not, please take advantage of this service to increase your situational awareness and pass to those that need timely weather information.

From the NWS -- Interactive NWS (iNWS) is the home of new mobile and desktop innovations of the National Weather Service. iNWS strives to fulfill our mission of protecting life and property by using new technology to reach out to our customers.

DTV activities

While the Senate voted to delay the cutover to DTV, the House said “Game ON!” and held to the February date. Meanwhile, hams are still coming up with excellent ways to gain friends in their communities by providing information about the DTV conversion. Many groups have linked with local TV stations and are getting great PR! Irrespective of the politics involved, this has been a win for Amateur Radio people.

There is an “Outreach Toolkit” with many materials freely available at and information about helping in the conversion and support materials is also available by calling 1-888-225-5322

Walt Palmer, W4ALT, found this helpful website:

Despite the name, it’s not a joke!
“This tool will analyze your location to determine which broadcast television signals are available in your area. It will compute the expected signal strength for every channel "in the air" at your location, including adjustments for transmitter power, terrain obstructions, curvature of the Earth, and other factors that affect signal availability. This information can help determine the relative signal strengths of stations that are potentially within reach of your location. It can also come in handy when trying to troubleshoot reception problems.”


By Ron Greene, WA2PCY
President Sun City Amateur Radio Society (S.C.A.R.S.)

We spotted this and believe it can be helpful information to PIOs. Not only did they work around a CC&R issue, but they won many friends in the process!
Sun City Texas is a Del Webb/Pulte Active Adult Community presently with about 5,050 homes, 10,000 residents and still growing, on 5,000 plus acres in Georgetown, Texas. Most of our residents are retired and enjoying the resort type existence that Sun City Texas offers. As with any retirement community, many of our residents are of advanced years and many have special needs. This was the fact that we at the Sun City Amateur Radio Society (S.C.A.R.S.) realized would help us convince our CC&R committee that it was in the communities’ best interest to allow HAMS to have antennas to be able to provide immediate emergency communications for our community during any kind of emergency. We knew that as HAMS we had an obligation to our community to be ready and had to convince our Governance Committees of the importance of our mission.
Being just a few short miles from Jarrell Texas, where a major tornado wiped out the whole city several years ago, gave our people on the Modification Committee reason to pause and listen to just what we at S.C.A.R.S. could do for our community. The outcome was an exception for licensed HAMS to erect 2 antennas after filing paperwork along with a copy of our FCC license (one HF Vertical and one VHF/UHF) on our home property. The link below will bring you to a video that was produced for our local community Television Channel and has received accolades from the Mayor of Georgetown, the President of the Chamber of Commerce and the Officials of our very own Community Association. The video tells our whole story. We hope it helps our fellow HAMS with their communities who may have similar CC&R’s. For additional information, please contact me at .
Just click on this link -

Press Release Tip

“Customize” any press release you send out.
Newspapers, radio and TV stations put many stories on their websites. Even if your story doesn’t get on the air, it can show up on the web. If you are sending a release to a their website, a blogger or other Web based media outlet, be sure to put in lots of hyperlinks to sites that are related to your central topic.
ARRL Media and Public Relations
ARRL Backgrounders
- are all good ones to include

Talking to Youth

This information came in as a relay from Brian L Short, KCØBS, via Larry Staples, W0AIB.

Duncan MacLachlan, KU0DM, spoke recently in Topeka, at the Kaw Valley ARC's annual banquet. I think you will find his ideas enlightening. His talk includes some useful techniques for talking to young people about ham radio.

Duncan is the ARRL Youth Editor

Part 1:

Part 2:

The YouTube video may have pixel problems in the first few seconds, but then clears up.
You can contact Duncan at

The Last Word

Everyone likes to have a little bit of “insider information” and know what is coming or why something is happening. It makes us feel special and gains the attention of others around us when we speak. But then, once we share that information, the specialness of it is gone and we’re just like others. Worse yet, if the event does not happen, then we look bad.

There’s also danger in sharing information on coming events because the receiver of the information may cause those plans to be changed. Once a decision is made and plan is formed, we don’t like anyone “messing around” with it. We can quote the quips about best laid plans going astray or surviving first contact, but the truth is that we just want to get the event done - and done our way.

But if we dare to lay aside our cloak of infallibility for a moment, there’s good reason to share that insider information when the people who may benefit from it could use a little advance notice to maximize those benefits. So, with the warning that this is only what’s planned and not a “done deal,” here are some things I believe are coming:

Matt Aaron, KG4WXX, is editing a new PSA for broadcast TV (in HD too!) while Kevin Pauley, KB9WVI, is working on a spin-off video PSA targeted just for Field Day.

Bill Morine, N2COP; Jim McDonald, KB9LEI; Don Carlson, KQ6FM; Khrystyne Keane, K1SFA; Ted Randall, WB8PUM; Harold Kramer, WJ1B, Kevin O’Dell, N0IRW, and Jeff Beiermann, WB0M are aiding in the writing and editing of PR-101. More people will be called on as things progress.

Kevin O’Dell, N0IRW, is also working on adding a “Hello” presentation to a new edition of Talk on a Disk so we have all three main themes on it.

Website development company Fathom (the same folks who did the great job on has been contracted to update the graphics and navigation of the initial Hello website. In a parallel activity, we’re also working on major expansions and enhancements to the PIO section of the primary site.

Field Day promotional pieces for PIOs are starting distribution while the DTV activity has resulted in many groups getting positive PR and even live TV coverage...

...and, initial arrangements and plans are being made for presentations at Dayton If you are going there, please stop by the PR area and also look for our presentations! There’s obviously a lot of good things we’ll be showing to PIOs.

Volunteers are also beginning plans for the ARRL booth at the National Association of Broadcasters meet in Las Vegas. Don Carlson and I will be there this year promoting the use of the new ARRL PSAs.

So, will all of this happen? Probably yes, thanks to a lot of work by volunteers who want you, as a PIO, to have every advantage we can provide to help you succeed in making friends for Amateur Radio.

-Allen w1agp


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